Of course, if that were really true, developers of upcoming MMOs that will be in competition with WoW would probably not feel the need to claim it. Especially considering the latest push from Blizzard to add to its already massive 9.3 million active subscriber base using celebrity-hosted dynamic commercials, combined with the buzz for the upcoming expansion Wrath of the Lich King, it is doubtful that WoW will be going into decline any time soon.
In fact, Blizzard's parent company, Vivendi, has continued to show significant increased revenue that is attributed to the success of WoW. Its recent merger with Activision suggests that indeed, professional predictions by investors remain positive.
So why say it at all? Honestly, it's not all wishful thinking. If you head over to these "online communities" such as the official forums, unofficial forums, and even our own comment boxes here at WoW Insider, you will find no shortage of complainants.
After every patch, hundreds of players threaten to quit WoW if certain changes are not reversed, or bugs are not immediately fixed. Many players cry that game mechanics are imbalanced, they cannot fathom why content takes time to release, and they may even maintain that they personally know more than the average developer. There is even a coined word for the phenomena; trolling.
Given all of this negativity, it is easy to see how one could gather the impression that on the whole, people's satisfaction with the WoW gaming experience is waning. Unfortunately, people often head to online forums for one of two reasons; to complain, or to seek help. Once those who are not primarily motivated by dissatisfaction meet up with enough whining, insulting and grandstanding, they begin to go elsewhere. Tapping into these communities as a means to gain understanding about the health of WoW is therefore flawed.
Satisfied players tend to spend more time in positive communities that they have built themselves, including guilds, guild websites, and their blogroll. In fact, they even spend a significant amount of time actually in the game! Many of these environments may be private, quieter on the radar, and generally more difficult to find unless you are an insider.
It is also important to note that any other MMO, once it gained enough ground, would likely engender a similar amount of negativity in related online communities. Although the initial excitement and newness of it all would see players reaching out to one another through forums and other means to connect in positive ways, once the dust had settled, and the game became established, the comments, complaints, and general noise would start up. Unfortunately, trolling cannot be avoided by producing stellar content; it is just something that some people feel the need to do, regarding any subject, all over the web.
What do you think about Bylos' comments? Do you feel that WoW on the whole may be losing some of its oomph, above and beyond the population of nay-sayers and the normal, unavoidable number of players who do choose to leave the game? Do you think that WoW has staying power that will carry it through the shiny, flashy, newness of upcoming MMO content?